The Styles of AMC's Mad Men – Menswear of the 1960s
Who ever thought the 1960s would be so cool? With the success of AMC's “Mad Men,” tight-fitted gray suits and crisp spread collars are suddenly getting a second look. There's more going on than a simple “man in the gray flannel suit” look, however…join us in a series of articles taking an in-depth look at each of the Mad Men's personal style!
Who ever said girls don't like nice guys? Flirty, well-dressed bachelor Ken Cosgrove is always a popular character, even with his rivals in the Sterling Cooper offices, and he dresses like a nice guy too. Ken's costumes radiate approachability and a very non-threatening personality.
Particularly stacked up to the more aggressive cut and color of some of his fellow Mad Men, he's definitely one of most relaxing characters to look at. No accident that his nice-guy fashion perfectly complements his figure and complexion as well…
Ken Cosgrove's Suits: The Low-Contrast Mad Men Look
Ken Cosgrove is what's called a low-contrast man: his features are all in similar shades, with pale hair, fair skin, and light eyes making an unvaried profile. He does an excellent job dressing for his complexion with muted clothing in similar colors, avoiding bright hues that would look garish against his paleness.
You're also going to see less dramatic shifts from one color to the next on Ken's clothing. The tie above is gradated, with the hues lightening or darkening gradually into one another rather than being in cleanly-divided lines. When business requires him to dress in darker suits — his preferred browns being too casual for formal business meetings in the 1960s, and to some degree even today — he chooses closely-matched ties where more high-contrast Mad Men sport hues that pop out from their jackets and shirts. When he does sport a bright color, it's usually a blue, matching his bright blue eyes in amongst the dominant browns.
By staying away from sharp contrast, Ken keeps from looking like he's trying to draw too much attention to himself. Pete Campbell's deep blues and greens would make him look garish; Roger Sterling's aggressive blacks and dark grays would wash his skin out. His need for a more restrained color scheme keeps him from being the most striking Mad Man, but he might be the one least likely to make a fashion mistake.
More Mad Men Style: Ken Cosgrove's Business-Casual Fashion
We learn early on in the series that Ken isn't as aggressive as some of his fellow Mad Men; he tells Pete Campbell that he's not interested in taking part in rivalries. His dress reflects his laid-back personality as well as his fair complexion.
In an era when “business-casual” barely existed, clothes like Ken's were the mark of a comfortable, less formal business personality. In a room full of the Sterling Cooper crew, he comes across as a less formidable presence — and often as the most approachable one too.
Outerwear: Overcoats, Hats, and Shoes
Ken keeps it informal with his accenting as well. His overcoat is loose and brown with a flat collar and no lapels, making a much more casual look than the elegant V-shape of Don Draper's outerwear.
He's also the only guy at the office we routinely see wearing brown shoes:
In some offices, the more casual brown dress shoes might not fly — and indeed, we do see Ken switch to plain black shoes whenever he meets with clients or businessmen from outside the company, just as his suits darken.
Ken Cosgrove and the Button-Down Shirt
In addition to his color palate and his more relaxed accents, Ken wears a more casual shirt than his fellow Mad Men. The color is white (nothing else would have been considered appropriate in the 1960s), but he wears a comfortable button-down collar, which was still considered a very informal style.
In casual situations, we also see Ken sport a fairly wide spread collar, and he appears in the more standard point collar shared by many of his co-workers as well. It's one of the few sources of variation in his outfit, which is otherwise very consistent in habits of color and cut.
Overall, Ken's consistent style isn't a bad thing. He's one of the more impeccable Mad Men, rarely wearing anything that doesn't suit him quite handsomely. He does come across as more casual than some of his fellow businessmen, but his relaxed approach often seems very successful with clients — and it suits his creative side as well, setting him a little bit apart from the pure-business world of gray suits.
For anyone with a very low-contrast complexion or a need to look a little more relaxed within the bounds of proper business attire, Ken Cosgrove is the man to watch at Sterling Cooper.